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In 1950s Nebraska, my sisters and I always had a lot to do in the summer: wade in the creek behind our house, play with the new kittens who lived under the porch, go to Gordie Schmeckpepper’s house and jump on the beds (his mother didn’t care), sit on the curb and eat green apples, or play canasta in Sheila Ryan’s attic. For adult men, the options were limited. Bowling season was over, fantasy sports didn’t exist, there weren’t any golf courses in our small town, and Nebraska had no Major League baseball team. My dad depended on our big, RCA console radio for entertainment and, of course, for baseball games. Daddy loved baseball season and he loved the Yankees.
When, at twenty, I told him I wanted to get married, he asked, “Is he a Presbyterian?” No, he’s a Catholic.
“Is he German, Scotch, or English?” No, he’s Lebanese.
“Is he a Republican?” No, he’s a Democrat.
“Is he a Yankee fan, or a Dodger fan?” He’s a Yankee fan.
“Well then, it’s all right with me.”
Anyways, even if the world hates the Yankees, they’re still my favorite team. I am a fair-weather Mariner fan—I’m good if they’re good, which happened once in 1995. But still, when we noticed that the Houston Astros were playing the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on Mothers’ Day, we clicked on “best seats available”, paid the big bucks, and went to the game.
You can see the game better at home on TV, but you miss an entirely separate viewing experience—that of watching the watchers. I saw the man in front of me looking down at his lap, watching the game on his iPhone; a cute young couple trying to contain an active two year old; the lady in front of me struggling to clap on the beat; a bored (and apparently hungry) teenage girl running up and down the stairs fetching hot dogs, taco bowls, cotton candy, and $14 fruity parfaits; a man keeping track of the play-by-play on his iPad while filling out his paper scorecard with a stubby lead pencil; the beer man with witty patter and folksy charm, and a darling eight year old boy, wearing an Astros shirt and an Astros baseball cap, engrossed in every play and leading every Wurlitzer clap-along.
Our seats were worth the money—we could see the whites of their eyes—fourteen rows up and behind first base. The players, umpires, and mascots wore bright pink accessories, Jose Altuve terrorized the Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma gave up three runs on seven hits and left after pitching five innings, we paid too much for mediocre foot longs, Astro fans belted out Deep in the Heart of Texas during the seventh inning stretch, and the Mariners lost 5-1.